Common Questions Regarding the Relinquishment Process

There is one aspect of the adoption process that raises the most questions for both adopting families and biological parents and that topic is relinquishments. When are relinquishments signed? Can the biological parents change their mind? Do I have to wait the 48 hours to sign the relinquishment papers? When does the biological father sign his relinquishments? Relinquishing is the point in the adoption process where the biological parent voluntarily relinquishes their rights to their child.  This is a very important step in the adoption process so I thought I would address some of the questions we tend to hear.

Relinquishment of Parental Rights

When are relinquishments signed? The relinquishment papers are signed no earlier than 48 hours after the birth of the baby. The biological mother will sometimes sign these papers while still in the hospital or after discharge. Once the papers have been signed after the 48 hours then they are irrevocable at that time. This is the process when using a private licensed adoption agency to adopt a newborn. It is important to state here that every state has different adoption laws. In Texas, the waiting period for relinquishment is 48 hours. In other states the relinquishment period can be longer. This is also for licensed adoption agencies. Private adoption done through attorneys and facilitators do not necessarily follow the same process as adoption agencies. It is important to understand this process when choosing and signing on with an adoption provider.

Waiting Period

Can the biological parents change their mind? The answer to that is yes but before the relinquishment papers are signed. This is why the state has mandated the 48 hour waiting period after birth before the biological mother relinquishes her rights. If at anytime before the 48 hours she changes her mind that is her legal right. Once the relinquishment papers have been signed then it is irrevocable. Again this is through a private licensed adoption agency. This is sometimes different when using an attorney, a facilitator, or for the foster care process. This is also sometimes not the case depending on the state in which the child was born. Some states have a period of time where the biological parent can still change their mind after the relinquishment papers are signed.

Do I have to wait the 48 hours to sign the relinquishment papers? This is a question we get from the biological mother. The relinquishments are a legal document so therefore we have to follow the law in regards to the time set on when these papers can be signed. Also as an adoption agency we want the biological parent to have had time after birth to make a decision that is good for both her and the baby. This is an emotional decision and right after giving birth is not the time to make it. The law also states that the biological mother has to be free of any medications or narcotics when signing this document. Most mothers giving birth will receive pain medications during and after the labor and delivery process so that is another reason for the 48 hours.

Fathers Rights

When does the biological father sign his relinquishments? This process can be a little more complicated than that of the biological mother. Each situation is different so it is important to clarify with your adoption caseworker the process of the biological father for your particular case. If the biological mother and father are married, then he cannot sign his relinquishment papers until the 48 hours as well. If they are not married, then he can relinquish his parental rights before the child is born. Once the biological father signs the relinquishments, even if it is before the birth of the baby, it is irrevocable.


Relinquishing Parental Rights in Texas

The relinquishment process can be very confusing and we invite you to ask as many questions as you would like. It is important for you to remember that this article states that process for our agency and for the State of Texas. Be sure and clarify with your adoption caseworker what the laws are regarding the relinquishment process in the state where the child will be born.  A good time to do that is before matching with a biological mother. If you are a biological parent, we understand that making an adoption plan and choosing to relinquish yours rights is a very difficult decision. Please feel free to contact our agency with questions or counseling at anytime.

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